(March 28, 2018, Chicago, IL) – Last week, the Trump Administration released a policy attempting to disqualify—and effectively ban—transgender people from serving openly in the military. This damaging measure has been opposed by national security leaders, service member organizations, military officials, and civil and human rights advocates, among others. Cynically couched in the interests of national security and military readiness, the true motivations are abundantly clear: sanction stigma and discrimination against transgender people solely for being themselves.
Howard Brown Health, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ organization, stands with the tens of thousands of current and future military service members directly affected by this ill-conceived policy; indeed, the dignity and rights of all transgender Americans are harmed by this action. Howard Brown also raises alarm with the tacit attack on gender-affirming healthcare and gender expression by transgender people.
By specifically barring people who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and people who seek medical interventions in their transition, the policy is hostile toward transgender identity and maligns transgender healthcare options for those who need them. The policy discourages people from expressing their true gender, which is directly linked to a higher incidence of depression and suicide. The dangerous policy invalidates transgender identity and ignores medical necessity for many transgender people.
Thousands of transgender patients come to Howard Brown for support in their medical transitions, and they tell us they do not know if they would be alive without compassionate gender-affirming healthcare. The new policy further attacks an already vulnerable and vital part of the community.
It is estimated that more than 134,000 American veterans are transgender, and more than 15,000 transgender people are currently serving in the military. These individuals serve our country with the same integrity and dedication as their cisgender counterparts. The new policy creates a devastating environment for transgender troops – increasing stigma, discrimination, and a heightened sense of isolation.
Howard Brown denounces the policy as blatantly inhumane. It will further a culture of violence and oppression against trans and gender non-conforming people, eroding American values of liberty and justice for all.